Aloes of Southern Africa
Aloes are the flagship plants of Africa, vividly defining the landscapes in which they occur. In garden settings, these stately succulent plants capture the allure of the African savanna and serve as excellent focus plants around which other indigenous plants can be successfully grouped.
Aloes in Southern Africa explores the character and biology of African aloes, describing their habits, characteristic features and distribution in nature. It also details 58 aloe and related species across several vegetation zones. Aloe cultivation and propagation is discussed too, providing insight into optimum growing conditions, gardening styles and plants that flourish in different regions.
A feature on medicinal, cosmetic and culinary uses reveals the special properties of these intriguing plants. Whether you are starting a garden, redeveloping one or simply looking to expand your knowledge of these fascinating succulents, Aloes in Southern Africa will prove an invaluable guide.
aridity. Aloes, and other plants found here, have had to adopt strategies that enable them to survive the environmentally hostile conditions. The remarkable diversity of plants found in these parts suggests that large numbers of them have adapted perfectly and not only survive, but flourish in the harsh conditions. The arid parts of southern Africa are host to the largest and richest diversity of succulent plants in the world: an astounding 4 674 plant species, classified in 58 families, show
case. In nature, aloes often grow in tight rock crevices, making them perfectly adapted for container growth. An aloe in full bloom makes a particularly decorative statement in the dreary winter months, whether indoors or outdoors. Even after they have finished flowering, their foliage can brighten an otherwise dull corner. If you grow your aloes in containers, you can spice up your surroundings by simply rearranging the pots. Although container plants that are kept indoors are protected from
drenching about once a month in the growing season. In general, succulents should not be excessively pampered – they should be encouraged to look natural. Applying fertilizer too often or too generously will make them appear pumped up and decidedly unnatural. The proportions of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium in a fertilizer are shown on the container as N:P:K values. For aloes, the first figure (indicating the nitrogen level), should be low in comparison to the other two, as too much
or a rosetteless stump. The cutting can be allowed to dry in the shade for a few days before it is planted, but in some species, for example, Aloe arborescens, this is not necessary. Dusting the cut edges with commercially available flower of sulphur will help to prevent rot, while an application of rooting hormone powder will stimulate the formation of roots, although most aloes will easily form roots without the external application of any stimulants. Cuttings from a species with naturally
variegata, are often attacked by aphids which, in turn, are controlled by predatory insects, such as ladybirds. In their natural habitats, aloes are able to cope with, and protect themselves against, destructive insect infestations. Here, white scale insect has attacked, but not destroyed, some leaves of Aloe littoralis (top) and A. cryptopoda (bottom) plants, while most of the leaves have remained unaffected. Note how the white scale on A. littoralis resembles the white flecks on the lower